‘OpsLens Terms to Know’: SOF

Everyone loves a good war movie, or a story on the news about the heroics of our nation’s elite special operations forces, or SOF.  However, it is rare that the media or films accurately describe the men and their unit designators, instead opting to call everyone ‘Special Forces’, which is in fact the specific designator for an elite U.S. Army unit (see below) and not a catch-all term.  Therefore, we have decided to provide the below most recognized SOF elements and their appropriate names or designators (Keep in mind that there are several additional terms for each group within the community, but we will spare you the longer list and acronyms.)  However, should you want to discuss these units in broad terms, or if you do not know the right term, simply state ‘special operations forces’ or ‘SOF’.

Below are several popular special operations elements within the military Community.

Note: This is NOT a comprehensive list of units

U.S. Army

Special Forces aka ‘Green Berets’;


First Operational Detachment – Delta (SFOD-D) – Combat Applications Group, ‘CAG’ aka ‘Delta Force’

160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment aka ‘Night Stalkers’

U.S. Navy


Development Group or ‘DEVGRU’ aka ‘Seal Team Six’

United States Air Force

Pararescuemen or PJs

Combat Controllers or CCTs

United States Marine Corps

Force Reconnaissance or Force Recon

OpsLens BONUS Terminology:

Tier One Units, or Special Mission Units (SMU), are the most elite and secretive elements within the military apparatus.  They are housed within the Joint Special Operations Command or JSOC.  Delta Force and Seal Team Six are examples of such units.

Look for more ‘OpsLens Terms to Know’ on a frequent basis.

By OpsLens Staff

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